Online dating – avoid a horror story

Whether it’s Grindr, Recon, Scruff or any of today’s hook-up apps, we’ve all heard minor horror stories of online fails, Sometimes though, things can get out of hand if you aren’t in control of the situation.

Many people find their partners online now, or at least some good sex. These simple steps can help to keep you safer:

1. Check the profile image

Always ask for more than one picture, preferable a few as it will be more likely that they are legitimate. It is easy to run a reverse image search on Google  to see if the profile pic is really theirs and not something they found online.

2. Meet in a public setting first

Even if it’s just a hook-up, meeting in a public place allows you to assess the situation. It’s easier to walk away if you don’t want to go any further and there will be people around if anything goes wrong or you feel uncomfortable.

3. Get their phone number

Call them to check they are genuine and get a sense of what they are like. A phone number can also help you check them out on apps like WhatsApp and Facebook if their number is linked.

4. Let your friends know where you are

You don’t have to give your friends every detail but you should let someone know where you’re heading. If you don’t want to tell people directly, make use of technology and share your location with a trusted friend on an app like ‘Find My Friends’ before you meet someone so they know where you are.

5. Know what you want

Be honest and upfront about the expectations you have and what you are looking for. This can help to avoid difficult situations. It also helps you to know your own limits and set boundaries ahead of time.

6. Bring less bling

Take the minimum that you need with you on a first meeting. No expensive jewelry, watches etc. You can show off your Prada on the second date if you feel the need. And if you take someone back to your house, don’t leave your valuables on display.

7. Be careful with alcohol and drugs

Whilst it should always be the case, take extra care if you’ve just met someone. There have been cases of drinks being spiked with drugs in the UK and people overdosing because of drugs someone else measured out for them. If you aren’t sure what you are being offered, say no.

8.  If something happens to you, report it

If you have had a bad experience report it to the people who made the app to stop it happening to someone else. Most have a function where you can report profiles. If something illegal has happened, tell the police.

 Read more tips on staying safe here:

GALOP – for hate crime advice, support or reporting. Call 020 7704 2040 or visit